Ved Buens Ende

Written in Waters

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Ved Buens Ende's sole full-length, Written in Waters, is an album of esoteric, experimental black metal that, years after its release, still sounds like nothing else. Much of what is here goes beyond what is typically thought of as black metal -- for example, Carl-Michael Elde's loose, almost jazzy drumming, Skoll's slithering, off-the-beat bass accents, and Vicotnik's frequently clean-toned guitar work (which has often been compared to post-rockers Slint). Together, the trio interacts more like a jazz-bred art rock group than a metal band. Elde's singing style is also unusual, not just for black metal, but for any kind of music, falling somewhere between a croon and some sort of gothic chant. This singing style has drawn criticism, and it is an acquired taste, but it is well done for the most part and fits with the cold, mystical, ghostly mood of the music. The songs, meanwhile, are mostly long -- averaging about eight minutes apiece -- and they take their time moving in and out of quiet, guitar-based instrumental sections, loosely rocking mid-tempo parts, and slightly more typical black metal sections with blastbeats and raspy vocals. The highlights, which include "I Sang for the Swans" and "Coiled in Wings," do an excellent job of tying together their different moods and sections, and they create a definite sense of atmosphere while also rocking pretty hard in the process. A couple of other tracks don't quite come off, but for the most part this is a strong piece of work from a band that did things its own way and succeeded most of the time.

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